The Sukhoi SSJ100 operated by national airline Aeroflot had 73 passengers and five crew members on board when it touched down and sped down a runway with huge flames and black smoke coming of its body.
Video footage showed desperate passengers leaping out of the plane onto an inflatable evacuation slide and staggering across the airport’s tarmac and grass, some holding luggage.
Two children were among the passengers who died, the Investigative Committee said. At least six people were reported injured.
The airport said in a statement that the plane, which had taken off from Sheremetyevo Airport for the northern city of Murmansk, turned back for unspecified technical reasons and made a hard landing that started the fire.
Some news reports cited sources as saying the plane bounced several times during the landing.
“Investigators soon will begin interviewing victims, eyewitnesses, airport staff and the airline carrier, as well as other persons responsible for the operation of the aircraft,” Investigative Committee spokeswoman Svetlana Petrenko said.
The SSJ100, also known as the Superjet, is a two-engine regional jet put into service in 2011 with considerable fanfare as a signal that Russia’s troubled aerospace industry was on the rise.
The plane is largely used in Russia as a replacement for outdated Soviet-era aircraft, but also is used by airlines in other countries, including Armenia and Mexico.
This is the second fatal accident involving the plane. In 2012, a demonstration flight in Indonesia struck a mountain, killing all 45 aboard.